March in the Garden at Clover Hill

March 2021 will be remembered as the month women in Australia said #enoughisenough and 100,000 Australians  took to the streets to #march4justice

It has been wonderful to be take time out from the rage and celebrate the beginning of Autumn in the garden at Clover Hill.

Autumn is often a time of planning and preparing for the seasons ahead. During March the days are still warm. Traditionally as summer begins to fade, we look forward to the changes of Autumn arriving.  The nights begin to cool, and we wake to morning dew and changes beginning to happen in the landscapes around us.

In March 2021 we are seeing unseasonably wet weather with many parts of NSW have been declared a natural disaster area.

The dairy farm adjacent to township will be under water.

Up on the hill my garden is celebrating with windflowers and cyclamens that I am very chuffed to have grown from seeds I collected from my garden previously

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and the fern house has finally recovered from the series of scorching hot days in December

Extreme weather events seem to be here to stay

And as my blog is been recorded by the National Museum as part of Australia’s history below is the Saturday Paper article by Mike Secombe that I  think best encapsulates the March 2021 zeitgeist and everything that is wrong with it.

The children of gods: how power works in Australia

By Mike Seccombe.

Christian Porter as a Hale School student.

CREDIT: SUPPLIED
The rarefied and entitled boys-only private school network has created massive imbalances and injustice in the halls of power, public policy and broader society.

Francis Greenslade was never really part of the privileged class that runs our country. But he came close enough to get a good look at it, warts and all. Greenslade – an actor, teacher, writer, translator, musician – is probably best known through his work on the ABC’s satirical television show Mad as Hell. But in his youth, he had another claim to fame, as a champion debater.

Greenslade got into debating as a student at his “posh” school in Adelaide, St Peter’s College, a boys-only school favoured by the South Australian establishment. Alumni include eight South Australian premiers, plus two who went on to lead New South Wales and Western Australia, as well as a rollcall of prominent political, legal, business and scientific figures, including three Nobel laureates.

Greenslade says he was definitely “not part of the Adelaide establishment”. His parents were scientists, comfortably middle class. But his school was elite, and there was a pervasive sense that the boys who went there were “the children of gods and we would inherit the universe”.

Not all St Peter’s boys bought into the sense of elitism, of course.

But there was definitely a cohort of boys, he says, who were “arrogant and self-entitled”.

“But I suspect they were arrogant and self-entitled before they even got to school,” he says. “It’s often the parents, I think.”

St Peter’s equipped Greenslade with skills as a debater and the qualifications for university. What it did not equip him for, though, was women.

“It was difficult,” he recalls. “I think that the main thing for me about going to a single-sex boys’ school is that once I got out I was not prepared for there to be a completely different gender. You know, talking to women, and just dealing with women as though they were people, did take me a while.”

At university, Greenslade’s passion for debating took him into even more rarefied company. He met people who are now politicians, judges, lawyers, the heads of ASX200 corporations.

This is hardly surprising. Not only does debating attract the brightest and most articulate students, it is often seen as part of preparation for public life, providing skills particularly useful in politics and the law. Greenslade never had ambitions in these areas; he simply enjoyed the cut and thrust of argument, the performance. He was very good at it, and went on to become an adjudicator of others.

And that’s how he first encountered Christian Porter, who was then a student at the elite boys-only Hale School in Perth. It was at a competition between school debating teams in 1987.

“I was the South Australian adjudicator in 1987 in Perth, so I would have adjudicated him. And I was part of the committee that chose the Australian schools team. So, I would have put him on the [national] team,” Greenslade says. “He must have been good … [but] I have absolutely no recollection of him at all.”

Greenslade does, however, have a very precise recollection of another member of the team, an exceptionally bright young woman – a girl, actually – from his home state, South Australia.

“She was a very, very good debater. She was selected for the state team in year 10, which was pretty unheard of,” he says.

He can still clearly remember the grand final debate of the 1987 national schools competition. The topic was “the future justifies optimism” and South Australia was to argue the negative.

The other team redefined the issue so cleverly that Greenslade – who was watching from the audience, but not adjudicating – recalls telling the South Australian coach: “I have no idea how they’re going to get out of this.”

It was that girl, the second speaker, who got them out of it. “And I thought, she won the debate for us.”

They were friends, and saw each other regularly at debating events over nearly a decade – including a big one held at the University of Sydney in January 1988, where he was awarded the best speaker gong. Greenslade was not, however, among those in whom she confided about what allegedly happened there. He supports calls for an independent inquiry into Attorney-General Christian Porter in the wake of the sexual assault allegation.

That exceptional young woman did not have the brilliant career her friends expected for her. She struggled with mental health issues and took her own life last year.

Late last month, friends of the deceased sent a letter to several federal politicians, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with a 32-page dossier written by the woman. In it, she graphically detailed her alleged rape, 33 years ago, by a person who subsequently became a federal cabinet minister.

Morrison says he did not read the dossier, but referred it to NSW Police, who said they could not proceed with a criminal investigation due to “insufficient admissible evidence”.

While traditional media did not identify the alleged perpetrator, social media did – to the extent that his name became a trending topic on Twitter.

On Wednesday of last week, Australia’s first law officer, Christian Porter, held a press conference and announced that he was the subject of the allegations. He categorically denied them.

“Nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened,” he said.

Porter said he would not stand down or stand aside. To do so, he said, would mean that anyone in public life might be removed from an elected position by the simple reporting of an allegation.

There were echoes of the schoolboy debater in his sweeping assertion that if this became the standard, “there wouldn’t be much need for an attorney-general anyway, because there would be no rule of law left to protect in this country”.

The prime minister agreed. As far as he was concerned, it was case closed. “He is an innocent man under our law,” Morrison declared.

But as many legal experts and others have pointed out, there are means of inquiry other than a criminal investigation that could be employed, and are employed frequently to determine whether all sorts of people – teachers, lawyers, sportspeople – are fit and proper for their roles.

The government, though, appears determined in its opposition to any further investigation of the allegations against Porter. Time will tell if that determination holds.

This is not just a question of law but, as Greenslade says, a matter of sociology. It’s about privilege and entitlement and the “club” of people like those he went to school with and debated against, who went on to careers in the law, judiciary, public service, business, media and, particularly, politics.

The composition of the Morrison government illustrates the point: 16 of 22 members of the cabinet are men. Save for one of these, all are white. The Saturday Paper has established the educational backgrounds of 15 of them.

Eleven went to non-government schools, mostly elite private ones. Seven of them, including Morrison himself, attended boys-only institutions. The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, provides some diversity; his schooling was elite, but also co-educational and Jewish Orthodox.

This world is so small that both Communications minister Paul Fletcher, a former dux of the private Sydney Grammar School, and Health minister Greg Hunt, who attended the Peninsula School in Victoria, were also in attendance at the ’88 debating competition.

Porter is from a similar rarefied pedigree, the son of Charles “Chilla” Porter, an Olympic high jumper turned Liberal Party powerbroker in Western Australia. Chilla’s own father, Charles Robert Porter, served in the Queensland state government from 1966 to 1980 and was appointed the minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs in Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s fifth ministry.

But when one looks more broadly at the composition of the federal parliament, the numbers tell a similar story of homogeneity. Just 23 per cent of Coalition members and senators are women, compared with 47 per cent for Labor, and 60 per cent for the Greens.

The conservatives’ “women problem” – more accurately a lack of women problem – has been the subject of commentary for years. It flared up particularly about the time of the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull from the Liberal leadership, with claims of sexism and bullying.

Several capable women, among them Julia Banks, Kelly O’Dwyer and deputy leader Julie Bishop, subsequently quit politics. As Bishop reminded us again in an interview this week, a group of men describing themselves as the “big swinging dicks” conspired to thwart her career.

Other Liberal women complained at the time but stayed on. Senator Linda Reynolds was one of them, after she publicly lamented in August 2018: “I do not recognise my party at the moment. I do not recognise the values. I do not recognise the bullying and intimidation that has gone on.”

Reynolds, the Defence minister, is now a central figure in another gendered crisis for the government, accused of being insufficiently supportive after the alleged rape, in March 2019, of one of her staffers, Brittany Higgins, then aged 24, by a more senior staff member, in Reynolds’ ministerial office.

The male staffer was sacked days later over what’s been described as a “security breach”. Despite the fact Higgins told Reynolds what had happened, and that multiple senior staff, several of them in the prime minister’s office, knew about it, Morrison claimed to have been unaware of the allegation for almost two years. Until the story became public last month.

The political damage done to Morrison by his denial was exacerbated by an apparent lack of concern for the victim. He gave his wife credit for awakening his empathy, by asking him to consider what he would want if it were one of their “girls”.

A devastating rejoinder was delivered by Grace Tame, the Australian of the Year and a sexual abuse survivor, at the National Press Club last week: “It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience,” she said. “And, actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience.”

When parliament resumes this week, Morrison will be down two senior ministers. Porter has taken leave while he tries to recover his mental health. Reynolds has taken time off due to a heart condition – pre-existing, but likely exacerbated by the stress of the Higgins revelations, including that she labelled her young former staffer a “lying cow”.

It is not just the Liberal Party that is burning here, though. A bigger, more widespread bonfire of the elite male vanities is blazing.

The sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has been called upon to lead an investigation of the workplace culture of the parliament – grudgingly established after the Higgins allegation. Jenkins believes Australia is now at a “turning point” in its attitudes to sexual harassment and assault.

“In my time working in this area … over the 30 years, I’ve never seen any moment like this,” she told the ABC last Sunday.

Cultural change, she said, was happening “across the board”.

Recent events have certainly lit a fire under elite boys’ schools, which so disproportionately turn out national leaders. And interestingly, the fire has been fuelled by their elite female equivalents.

About three weeks ago, Chanel Contos, a former student of Sydney’s Kambala girls’ school, began an online petition calling for schools to do more to instruct students about sexual consent, and at a younger age. She was driven by concern about the toxic masculinity evident among private schoolboys.

“I have lived in three different countries and I have never spoken to anyone who has experienced rape culture the way me and my friends had growing up in Sydney among private schools,” Contos told one interviewer.

Within a couple of weeks, the petition received more than 3000 responses from young women, sharing their stories of sexual abuse.

The private educational establishment responded with some commitments to do more about consent instruction, but also attempted to lay the blame for the apparent culture of misogyny on external factors: indulgent parenting, intoxicants and online pornography.

A note to parents from Tony George, the head of Sydney’s prestigious The King’s School, whose alumni includes federal Energy minister Angus Taylor and former NSW premier Mike Baird, questioned how effective more consent education could even be, given the examples of aberrant behaviour in politics, sport and elsewhere. George wrote, in part:

“… do we really think an intoxicated teenage boy is going to have the presence of mind to recall his sex education curriculum and restrain himself at a boozed-up party when given the opportunity to pursue his porn-filled imagination and desire?

“If footballers and parliamentary staffers can’t do it, I think not.”

Other defenders of the elite status quo have similarly blamed exogenous factors, particularly pornography, rather than the culture their institutions help foster.

“They are identifying the wrong problems,” says Catharine Lumby, who serves as a pro bono gender adviser to the National Rugby League, as well as being a professor of media studies at the University of Sydney.

“The problem is not online pornography. It is a gendered order in society where men, some men, think they can control women, and children, like property.”

Single-sex schools especially, she says, “are a bad idea”.

Not only do they encourage a sense of entitlement in their charges, a sense that they are better than others, those “others” include a whole gender.

“As a girl from a working-class background, I did an arts/law degree at Sydney University and I was shocked by the behaviour of the elite, privileged boys from single-sex schools,” she says.

“I will never forget when one of them brought a blow-up plastic sex doll for the lecturer to hold during a criminal law class on sexual assault.”

These days, Francis Greenslade wonders whether Australia’s private school system is desirable at all.

It’s a good question. The data shows not only that this country is sliding down international rankings in terms of education, but also that Australia’s educational outcomes are more polarised than in most comparable nations.

It is clear that students from less advantaged backgrounds suffer in under-resourced schools. But it is less clear whether those from more-privileged backgrounds actually benefit much, in purely academic terms, from private education. An array of socioeconomic factors means they would likely do well anyway.

Economists have a term for things that are valued more for the status they advertise than for their utility: positional goods. Perhaps a private school education could be seen in a similar way, as something valued for the status and contacts it provides.

It’s often said that the eye-watering fees paid for places at some of Australia’s elite non-government schools are an investment in a child’s future social network, far more than in their academic future.

Jordana Hunter, education program director at the Grattan Institute, says it’s complicated. “It can be hard to disentangle learning effects from networking effects. Networks seem to be quite significant in terms of success later in life. And that’s above and beyond a cognitive literacy and numeracy learning effect,” she says.

Which is to say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Hunter offers another insight, of particular relevance to politics: “It’s hard to understand the concerns of people you don’t empathise with, and hard to empathise with people [who] you don’t know.”

And when you have leaders drawn from a very narrow, privileged background, that has serious ramifications – both in terms of understanding of sexual consent and beyond.

Consider, for example, the Morrison government’s response to the Covid-19 recession. Women, as the Grattan Institute detailed in a comprehensive report this week, lost their jobs at twice the rate men did. They were saddled with more unpaid work, including supervising children learning remotely. They were less likely to get government support, because JobKeeper excluded short-term casuals, who in the hardest-hit industries are mostly women.

Yet the government directed substantial support to sectors, such as construction, that were little affected. It pumped more resources into apprenticeships, which historically are 70 per cent male, and ignored tertiary education, which is heavily female.

Grattan’s chief executive, Danielle Wood, can cite innumerable examples, from childcare to superannuation to homelessness, where women are relatively disadvantaged.

It comes back to a lack of diversity among politicians, she says.

“They just haven’t had the lived experience. And they don’t necessarily deal with a lot of people that have had that lived experience. And so, we end up focusing on a narrower set of policy issues than we should.”

This criticism goes beyond gender to class and race issues, too. For the moment, the focus is on the treatment of women.

Kate Jenkins may be right. Perhaps we have reached a moment of real change. But the “club”, as Greenslade calls it, is very good at protecting its privilege.

It is also very good at silencing its critics by deflecting, intimidating, stonewalling and using the shame felt by its victims against them. But if the past few weeks have shown anything, it’s the power of those victims’ stories when they are told.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 13, 2021 as “The children of gods: how power works in Australia”.

If you were an Australian farmer what would you grow?

Australia is the hottest, driest inhabited continent. So dry 35% of our landscape is classified as desert

If Twitter is a benchmark, there is no shortage of people with opinions on what we should not grow

I am the program designer of an initiative that is building a smarter agriculture sector through the next generation.

We see people as agriculture’s greatest resource and our programs are supporting agriculture’s succession plan by:

  1. Identifying and training agriculture’s emerging leaders who we call Young Farming Champions. We provide our Young Farming Champions with a smorgasbord of opportunities to apply what they learn and multiply their impact.
  2. Attracting the best and the brightest to the agriculture sector through our in-school programs. The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas

Our work with schools has shown us that young Australians are highly capable of solving tomorrows problems today. In 2020 the foundation principle  of The Archibull Prize model is inviting students to identify agricultural issues important to them and their region, spend three to six months doing a deep dive into their identified issue and putting their solution forward to our judges in the form of a Sustainability Action Project report and as an artwork.

Part of our organisation’s commitment to the students and teachers is to collate the latest research on their area of investigation and connect them with experts in the field

Agriculture can be incredibly grateful for the gaps in documented research the student’s area of investigations have highlighted in 2020. The big one being peri-urban agriculture.  Australia is the most urbanised country in the world. 89% of Australians live in our cities.   Most of those urban areas are located on our most productive soils and it appears no-one has done a significant body of research on how we can support dairy farming on our urban fringes.

The other interesting topic that is proving challenging for me is Regenerative Agriculture. It is a term that means everything and nothing. It is a farming concept all farmers aspire to. Everyone wants to build organic matter and water holding capacity in their soils. It is not new. Once Australian farmers realised that European farming principles did not suit our fragile soils our farmers have been looking for better ways to farm. There is no one size fits all. To learn from the experts and each other ( 9 out of 10 farmers learn from each other) our leading farmers come together in producer groups across the country

To show the students the diversity of farming systems and landscapes and how farmers are learning from each other and experts I invited farmers to share with me the Best in the Business Grass Roots organisations (with websites) they belong to.  Here is my work in progress list

Sustainable Farming Systems for High Rainfall Areas http://www.sfs.org.au/
Vic No Till Farming Group https://www.vicnotill.com.au/
Birchup Cropping Group https://www.bcg.org.au/
South Australian no till farmers https://www.santfa.com.au/
Hart Group http://www.hartfieldsite.org.au/
Central West Farming Systems http://cwfs.org.au/
Mallee Sustainable Farming https://msfp.org.au/about/our-organisation/
Grower Group Alliance http://gga.org.au/about-the-grower-group-alliance2/
Best Wool Best Lamb https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/support-and-resources/networks/bestwoolbestlamb
Leading Sheep http://www.leadingsheep.com.au/
MerinoLink http://www.merinolink.com.au/
FarmLink http://www.farmlink.com.au/
AgZero2030* https://agzero2030.org.au/
PrecisionAgAus https://spaa.com.au/
Irrigated Cropping Council https://irrigatedcroppingcouncil.com.au/
Riverine Plains Inc https://riverineplains.org.au/
Partners in Grain Q http://www.partnersingrain.org.au/
Stirlings to Coast Farmers https://www.scfarmers.org.au/

Check them out.

You will be proud of what Australia farmers are aspiring to achieve

* AgZero2030 classify themselves as an agriculture sector-led movement progressing climate solutions

Today the sun is shining on the rain and the rain is falling on the sunshine

“Is the spring coming?” she said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Meet Penelope. She is a petite little thing. She likes to climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

She likes to play peekaboo and wink at me through the fork in the lemon scented gum. She maybe the centrepiece but it is the frame- the bark on the tree that reminds us “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. 

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring 

 

 

Why the NSW National Party’s language about koalas is so damaging to the livelihoods of farmers

The recent Primary Industries Education Foundation survey of students found:

*59% of students learn what they know about food and fibre from their teachers.
* Media and family/friends are also significant influencers of students.

At Picture You in Agriculture we also survey teachers and our research shows that young people who hold very strong opinions about animal welfare and environmental stewardship get their strong opinions and  images and perceptions from the media.

The language that farmers use in the media and the animal wellbeing and environmental stewardship policies they align themselves with are pivotal to maintaining consumer trust.

It is also pivotal that the politicians who claim to represent farmers give very serious thought to the language they use.

I am 100% confident that every farmer in Australia wants the best outcomes for koalas as much as every Australian who wants to leave a legacy for our children we can all be proud of.

Smart farming means nurturing the landscape that feeds and clothes us and finding the delicate balance required to share it with our unique plants and animals

#GenerousAncestors

In the media

NSW Farmers Association

NSW Farmers calls on government to find sensible solution for koalas and farmers

Australian Financial Review

Why the NSW government almost self-destructed over koalas

Sydney Morning Herald

Property developer the only stakeholder to raise concerns about NSW koala policy

Koala tiff just the latest clash between Libs and Nats over nature

Blame and Shame time – climate literacy void in the offices of the policy makers

Young people rank their literacy on Climate Change very highly yet

Australia’s global ranking on progress towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals continues to be dragged down due to a lack of meaningful policies on climate change. Source

Climate Literacy

While Australia scored highly on indicators relating to poverty, health and well-being, education, clean water and sanitation, and economic performance – explaining its overall ranking of 37 – that ranking was dragged down by poor scores in environmental indicators.

Australia scored poorly on development issues relating to pollution, particularly those related to the use of cleaner forms of energy.

Major deficiencies were identified for indicators relating to ‘responsible consumption and production’ as well as climate action and the emissions intensity of its electricity system.

What do you think? Time for our politicians to go back to school and work on their eco-literacy

We are all hungry for good news stories

Everyone loves a good news story. After droughts, flooding rains and fire and now COVID we are all hungry for good news stories

My 2020 conversations with students and teachers in schools in NSW and Queensland is telling me young people not only want to hear a good news story they want to create their own.
They are particularly passionate about the opportunity to work with farmers to ensure the food we produce gets to the people who need it most. Global Goal 2 which is #ZeroHunger is a big priority for them
This year has been a wonderful opportunity to engage with global partners including Corteva Agriscience and the World’s Largest Lesson to help support young Australians to make the difference they want to make in the world everyday.

These partnerhsips are helping us understand what young people are thinking and feeling and how they believe they can best support farmers. This has been backed up by our recent research in Australia and complements the work done by Corteva listening to young producers and young consumers around the world.

The future of Food and Farming

When you combine the facts and figures with magnificent animations like this from the Worlds Largest Lesson young people get great joy out of knowing we can all DO SOMETHING

Leaders who leave legacies we can all be proud of – where have they all gone?

Bob Hawke meme

I got a call earlier in the week from some-one looking for Bob Hawke’s Statement on the Environment speech from 1989. This was the day he announced that he had done the impossible and bought together farmers, conservationists and governments to form the Landcare movement. This week marks the 30th anniversary of Landcare

In Bob Hawke — 23rd prime minister, true moderniser and Labor giant — Australia found a political leader the likes of which we’d never seen before. Catherine Taylor Source

I knew I had a copy because I quoted from it when I won the inaugural Bob Hawke Landcare Award in 2012. That was the night I first met Bob Hawke (who clearly on the night would have preferred I was a little shorter for the photos). Its fascinating the things you remember from highlights in your life. What I remember most was Bob Hawke’s presence when he stood at the podium to make his speech. This was a man in his eighties who had the room spellbound. This was a man who was a great orator, a man who had achieved so much and left legacies like Landcare we can all be proud of.

Watch his fabulous interview with Pip Courtney here

What makes Bob Hawke stand out from the crowd is summed up by the man himself in this response to a question from Pip

Pip Courtney:

You brought warring parties together, farmers and conservationists. Is that your enduring legacy?

Bob Hawke:

I did that not only in regard to Landcare, but my whole approach in government was a consensus approach. When I said to business and trade unions, I said, “You each have legitimate objectives, business, to grow your businesses, unions, to gradually improve the wages and conditions of your members. You’re much more likely, each of you to achieve those legitimate objectives if you work together.” And we did that on the economic side, and I used the same approach in regard to the environment.

I was extraordinarily fortunate then having two great men to work with, the late Rick Farley, of the National Farmers Federation, and Phillip Toyne of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Remarkable Australians, and they’d basically been at loggerheads so much and I brought them together, and we formed a tripartite approach, which brought the strengths of government, the conservation movement and the farmers together, well we’ve seem the results.

Yes we all know #collaboration is the key. We all know there is no #PlanetB. Yet we struggle to elect leaders like Bob Hawke who understand that humans have to find a way to live in harmony with nature

It’s time to empower our new generation of courageous champions who will leave legacies we can all be proud of.

Legacy

 

Do our politicians care about us?

Its pretty easy  to think about the world and be cynical. I know at my age I can certainly write a list of the people who have let me down.

But we all know selling despair, ruminating  on the people you wished hadn’t crossed your path and on what could have been gets us nowhere. On the other hand selling hope and focusing on a bright future by engaging and working with the people who share your vision keeps the fire burning in our bellies

I keep the fire burning in my belly by surrounding myself with exciting young people. Young people in schools, young farmers and young activists for social and environmental justice .

Last Friday night  I attended the NSW ACT Young Achiever Awards to support Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Joshua Gilbert who were both finalists in the Environment and Sustainability Category   

Anika Molesworth

Anika Molesworth Winner of  the Environment and Sustainability Award

Millennials and the generation before them don’t exactly  get the best wrap and are often described as self absorbed .  Reading the bios of the finalists in all categories  certainly drew everyone’s attention to a group of young people and their support networks who are turning  the self absorbed label on its head.

Why theses young people do what they do  and how they do it is both fascinating and inspiring.   Last year’s winner in the opening speech said something that gave me food for serious reflection. This young lady is a very passionate member of AYCC who lobbied their peers to sign up and vote at the last election. She quoted some phenomenal numbers as a testimony to their success.

She expressed her motivation by saying  something along the lines of “politicians don’t care about young people and young people don’t care about politicians”. She went on to say part of the mission of AYCC is to show young people how important it is to care about politicians and what they do and don’t stand for and to vote for the one’s that align with their values

Do politicians care about young people.? Do they care about us?  I think they do but I can certainly understand why people in general wonder what they do stand for. How do we fix a system where it appears that too many of our politicians only care about the needs of big business and the powerful people and not enough about the quality of life and well being of everyday Australians?.

AYCC have got it right. It’s up to everyday Australians to hold our politicians accountable and that starts with making sure we have the right politicians in office and support fiercely the one’s who align with our values.

Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, a fierce campaigner for #youthinag and the viability  and resilience of Australian farmers and social and environmental justice

Anika’s acceptance speech – its easy to see why she is in demand as a keynote speaker 

 

 

Little vs Big Agriculture – are objective views lacking??

grist

Foodies I need help.

The Picture You in Agriculture team has paired up with the Intrepid Landcare tribe to create and deliver a program that builds on the success of the Art4agriculture initiatives – The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions to help young people in schools get their heads around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and take local action

Schools participating in the Kreative Koalas program ( note landing page only at this stage)  will partner with Young Sustainability Ambassadors (Expressions of Interest open here  ) and investigate and reflect on seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

goals_ppt_16x9

We are finding ‘Responsible Production’ tricky. Coming from generations of primary producers that these days would be seen as Big Agriculture, my mission is to show the Little vs Big Agriculture story is not a binary argument – Good vs Bad or Romantic vs Reality or Sustainable vs Non-Sustainable or Non-Sustainable vs Sustainable but a continuum. I am looking for objective views and some great cases studies on both Little and Big Ag.

Landline is an obvious choice for content but no-one has yet identified OZ food bloggers/journalists of the likes of  Tom Philpot from Mother Jones, Nathanael Johnson from Grist  and  Helena Evich from Politico for me

Do we have food journalists that write level-headed assessments of Australian agricultural systems in plain English?  If the answer is yes – please share them with me

HT Richard Heath and Dr Heather Bray

Farmers for Climate Action – debunking the myth that farmers are climate change deniers

A well known group of highly respected Australian farmers have put their hands up to debunk the myth that Australian farmers are climate change deniers

In a previous blog found here I shared the research that showed 2 to 4 times as many farmers identify as human induced climate change sceptics compared to the community in general. In contrast to this lack of alignment with 97% of scientists and the community, up to 90% of surveyed farmers acknowledged using climate change adaption and mitigation strategies.

So the question is “why” do so many farmers prefer identify as sceptics? This article by Gabrielle Chan in The Guardian – Climate change is spoken of in hushed tones but it wasn’t always this way provides some excellent insights.

 

Climate Change is now well and truly out of the closet for Australian farmers. Our farmers have a lot to be proud of whilst we are Australia’s fourth highest source of emissions (after electricity, stationary energy and transport) we are the only sector to have decreased emissions in recent years.Farmers have acknowledged they are part of the problem and they are very determined to be part of the solution.

At the moment, the electricity sector contributes around 34% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia each year. This is more than double the emissions from agriculture. Unlike changing our personal and food waste habits, which will require a gradual cultural shift, changing our energy sources and reducing our energy consumption primarily requires political commitment.

We already have the technology and are seeing it adopted on a large scale around the world.Emissions reductions from the electricity sector could deliver the rapid and significant cuts that we need as soon as possible.

Excitingly our farmers are gaining public support and now actively lobbying our politicians to get on the clean energy train as this recent example shows

This article is a reprint from Australian Geographic by Gemma Hilton on Sept 27th 2016

Farmers asked to share their climate change experience

IF THERE’S ANY group of Australians who are likely to see and fully appreciate the impacts of climate change first-hand, it’s our farmers, who rely on the patterns and moods of the weather to make a living.

Farmers like Peter Holding, who is a third-generation mixed-operation farmer (wheat, canola, wool and lamb) from southern NSW. Peter’s family has been farming their land on the south-west slopes of Harden since 1929. He says he first really started to be impacted by the changing climate with the big, late-season frost event of 1998, followed by the unprecedented drought period of the first decade of the 2000s.

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Today, Peter is vocal about the need to do something about climate change. He is also a member of the newly formed Farmers For Climate Action, which is asking farmers around Australia to share their experiences of, and attitudes towards, climate change in a nation-wide survey. This is the first Australia-wide survey of its kind and was launched last week at a large, annual NSW agribusiness event called Henty Field Days.

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Volunteers from Farmers for Climate Action prepare to survey farmers at Henty Field Days, NSW. (Source: Farmers for Climate Action)

Peter says farmers are at the “frontline” of climate change, and he thinks attitudes among farmers are changing – however the survey, which has already received hundreds of entries, will paint a clearer picture.

Cattle farmer and businesswoman Lucinda Corrigan, who has already completed the survey, is now encouraging other farmers to do the same.

“We already know agriculture is Australia’s most climate-exposed industry, but precise impacts vary between regions and sectors. For me, in southern NSW, we’re seeing increasing temperatures and our rainfall patterns significantly alter, and this makes short and long-term planning for our agribusiness more challenging,” she says.

“It’s critical that as many farmers as possible get involved in this conversation because the decisions made today and tomorrow will affect us long into the future. We want to make sure we can keep farming into not just the next season, but for generations to come.”

Farmers For Climate Action will use the survey results to inform their practices and areas of focus. Farmers who complete the five-minute survey will also go in the draw to win a solar system and battery storage worth $15,000.

The survey has already has 400 responses from farmers – help Farmers for Climate Action reach 1000 responses farmers can undertake the survey here.